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Our Vision

Make hope real for people trapped in poverty.

Our Mission

Deliver appropriate solutions with high benefit to cost ratio, using street smart processes to detect fraud and stretching the donor’s dollar to do more with less.

Why Hope


We take stewardship of donors’ money seriously, working to ensure that donated funds are translated into projects that bring a significant impact to our beneficiaries. Our two decades of experience in developing countries has taught us that fraud and corruption are serious obstacles to the cost-effective delivery of programmes. For this reason, we have painstakingly developed streetsmart processes that do not just rely on receipts. Our programmes are evaluated from the viewpoint of the beneficiaries and we constantly seek their feedback.

Maximum Benefits To

Although it is a vital indicator of success for NGOs, benefit-to-cost ratio is not a widely used parameter. At OHF, it is a key performance indicator. However, the way benefit and cost are calculated has to be clearly defined. For OHF, benefit is the financial cost of the services given to the beneficiary.

Relevance of the benefits

We evaluate benefit not only on the basis of cost but also on its usefulness to the beneficiary. For example, in the Indonesian tsunami, 20 large fishing boats were donated to the affected fishing community, but they were too big and expensive to operate. The 20 boats were left rusting on the beach. Therefore despite the huge financial donation involved, there was no benefit to the receiver

Real cost of the benefits

In a disaster relief project in a village known to us, 500 villagers were each given 20kg sacks of rice by an NGO who had purchased them from a local supplier. However as no one weighed the rice sacks beforehand, the NGO did not know that the actual weight of each sack was 15kg, but they were charged for 20kg. Furthermore, the rice quality was inferior to that requested and paid for by the NGO. So the benefit has to be set against the actual cost per kilogram, which was much higher than expected

MAXIMISING Benefit To Cost Ratio

Low Benefit-to-Cost Ratio

Often donors mistake the total amount of their donation as the benefit. However, it is important to ask how the NGO uses the money and how many intermediaries are involved before it reaches the beneficiaries. Our research indicates that the benefit-to-cost ratio can be as low as 10%.

High Benefit Cost Ratio

At OHF we make sure that our benefit-to-cost ratio is never less than 80%, to ensure maximum benefit to the beneficiaries. This requires considerable focus on cost by our senior management, to keep it as low as possible. This high benefit-to-cost ratio is our commitment to our donors

Detect And Reduce Frauds

Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff.” Alan Greenspan Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

Receipt-based audit does not work

In our projects we do not rely only on receipts for our audits, as receipts are easily faked. For example, in the use of vehicles, a driver can easily submit fabricated receipts for diesel. We therefore have put measures in place to check the mileage of each vehicle and, based on the vehicle consumption, we estimate the diesel cost. This estimated cost is then compared against the actual claims submitted.

Creative ways to verify work done

After typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, a project was launched and funded to build 700 houses for the victims. But the donor had no way of verifying that the 700 houses were actually built, since he could not visit all of the houses. We have a simple, fool-proof solution to this problem, which involves requesting the local NGO partner to submit photos of all the houses they have built, using a GPS enabled camera. Each picture of the house will have the GPS coordinates embedded in the photo, and with these GPS coordinates we can check each individual house, using Google Earth.

Why is fraud unrecognised?

The Virus of Poverty is fraud

Most accounts checking systems are based on the collection of receipts, and the assumption that receipts are genuine. However, faked receipts are widespread in many developing countries. When no effort is made to check whether the receipt is genuine, fraud is encouraged. In developing countries, accounting and audit systems based on receipts do not work if the latter can easily be falsified. Street-smart processes must be used in conjunction with receipts to ensure proper accounting and detect fraudulent practices

Providing High-Impact Projects

Statistics can give completely the wrong impression. An NGO can claim that its donation of $1 million has benefited 100,000 people. But this amounts to just $10 per person. How effective and life transforming can $10 be?

Giving hope to poor families

In our OHF Community programme, we carefully select very poor families in need of housing, and provide them with a basic 4m x 5m wooden house at a cost of S$4,000. These houses have many benefits. First of all the family gains self-esteem and dignity. They integrate better into their immediate community, as neighbours can now come to visit them. Children feel more secure, as they have a substantial house to live in and are no longer vulnerable to mocking from their classmates for living in a shack. Moreover health improves, as the family is no longer drenched by an old leaking roof when it rains.

Giving hope to rural youth

In our OHF Skills programme, we offer a seven-month residential training course for rural youth in deprived communities to provide them with the skills and confidence to get a white-collar job. At the end of our course students can speak conversational English, are computer-literate and acquire other key marketplace skills. Even more importantly, they develop greater selfassurance and a hunger to learn more, which along with the new skills they have acquired, benefits them at job interviews.

Our Values

Hopes Comes Alive

Inclusivity is about creating programmes that benefit everyone regardless of creed or colour, have long-lasting benefits, and are comprehensive in their nature.

Dignity is about enabling disadvantaged individuals, families and communities to do more for themselves, empowering them and restoring their self-respect.

Empathy is about putting ourselves in the shoes of our beneficiaries, to understand their problems and meet their needs in the right way.

Accountability is about taking ownership and being transparent in our operations, enabling our donors, partners and beneficiaries to understand what we do and how the money is spent.


We welcome and serve all, regardless of colour, creed or faith. We want to build communities that help one another. Poverty and need are our primary selection criteria regardless of religion and caste. We believe in the power of partnerships with other organisations to do more goo


We want to empower the poor and disadvantaged, so that they can do more for themselves. The aid rendered must be tangible and effective, such as providing training in computer skills and English in order to help rural youth to get jobs. When Nepali villagers affected by the earthquake are taught how to build low-cost rice bag houses themselves, instead of depending on government aid, they gain confidence and self-respect.


Empathy is the most important value for us, as it ensures we do the right thing at the proper cost for our beneficiaries. Empathy is about putting ourselves in their shoes in order to understand their needs and see how we can best help them. It’s also about having the discipline and humility to acquire new skills if those skills are what the poor needs. Empathy is to ensure maximum benefit goes to the poor, that cost is properly contained and that we ensure our donor’s funds are properly used.


We believe in taking ownership of projects, even when working with partners. Accountability means we are intimately involved in the execution of our programmes. Special attention is given to prevention of fraud and corruption. All projects are executed with full transparency and good governance. Accountability is also to ensure that projects provide real impact to our beneficiaries.